Sunday, November 18, 2018

Were There Other Cities Vacated by the Nephites at the Time Mosiah I Left the Land and City of Nephi – Part VI

Continued from the previous post, regarding the ancient settlements that were built by early Peruvians along the ancient road that ran from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca. In the mountains, this road was laid down at 10,000-feet and higher, tracing a perfectly straight line across the high slopes of a hillside, above the risk of landslides and below exposed ridges. Drainage was vital, and these early Peruvians poured labor into substrates, ditching and walls that held back erosion. It was a marvel, certainly rivaling the famed Roman roads of Europe.
    As has been pointed out, the ancient settlements along this route were often built both as defensive structures and housing or barracks for large numbers, as well as provided with massive agricultural terraces where ingenious irrigation channels and canals irrigated large crop fields. In addition, they were built of rock, both cut and dressed stone as well as available boulders, being large, flat slabs and hand transportable rock.
    However, south of the LaRaya Pass, upon the Altiplano, the mountain peaks dwindled and the terrain flattened out, forming a more or less flat tableland in a series of rifts stretching for hundreds of miles north to south, and intermittently widening into expansive basins and narrowing around rock and hilly outcroppings.
Example of the open and mostly unoccupied basin of the Altiplano tableland along the southern route to the west of the old road from Puno to Cuzco, south of the LaRaya Pass

All along this road, the ancient settlements that often lie beneath much more modern structures, as well as the settlements scattered on the Altiplano, were and even today are peopled by descendants of the first Peruvians, called the indigenous Quechua people today by anthropologists, whose ancestors in the area date back into BC history, and their Quechua-speaking descendants make up about 80-85% of the population around the western and northern rims of the lake and westward and northward out onto the Altiplano.
    Once past Ayaviri, an old settlement situated at 12, 818-feet, on this Altiplano west of the main road running toward Puno, is the ancient settlement of Pukará. The name, meaning “Fortress,” is near the 14,373-foot mount T’aqañawi (T'aqa Ñawi, meaning “separate,” describing a series of separate mountain peaks along the Pampa Tacañahui, which dates back into BC times. Archaeologist say people were in the area as early as 1800 BC, but certainly into the last century BC, covering an area of 2½ square miles. Known for their amazing stonework, the site contains several ruined buildings constructed of large monoliths of finely crafted stone, including what is believed to have been an administrative and religious center a ceremonial sector, and nine pyramids of various shapes and sizes and also a social and political montículo center on a foundation platform 165x165 feet, all of which was constructed about 400 BC.
The ruins of Pukará near Puno, one of many “pukaras,” with 51 in Peru and 133 in Ecuador

This ancient fortress of Pucará was in the valley to the northwest of Puno and 2½ miles from the ancient site of Qaluyu, a culture claimed to have preceded the Pucará based on ceramic styles, and flourished until about 500 BC, and possibly as late as 200 BC. Further east from Pucará, about 25 to 35 miles are larger Qaluyu sites, around Arapa and Taraco, with numerous stelae in the area, including those around Chupa and other ancient lithic remains, with an archaeological history in agriculture and livestock along the Chupa wetlands or Bahia. Many archaeologists consider Qaluyu the earliest site in this region and at one time predominant in power and control of the area (Andean Archaeology III: North an South, vol.3, ed William Isbell and Helaine Silverman, Springer, New York, 2008, pp246-252).
    An interesting side note regarding the old legend of the beginning of Taraco, which is a peninsula located on the south of Arapa and Titihue lagoons, and the north shore of Lake Titicaca on a 125-square-mile pampas or plain with the Pusi and Muñani located to the south. These first settlers of the area in a remote time were said to be bearded men of great intelligence and power, who were dedicated to hunting and fishing, and who were eventually invaded and destroyed by the warriors from Huancané, a land known in history belonging to the chiriwanos, wankas and matacuras, and considered the oldest in the Puno region. Part of this interesting history, or legend, is that before destroying the people of Taraco, the heads of both forces [Huancané and Taraco], divided their territories [Quechuas and Aymaras], whose dividing line was the River Ramis—one group to the north, the other to the south.
    Interesting, as legends go, but certainly inconclusive.
Map of the settlements around Lake Titicaca, which anciently were mostly in the north, with Chiripa and Tiwanaku in the south

In any event, returning to Pukará, it might be of interest to know that this fortress overlooked a settlement cluster of numerous small towns and villages, which Anthropologists believe were all ruled from this central location. Certainly Pukará was formidable enough to both govern and protect the various small settlements in the area, which was occupied by the Pucará Culture—a people who defeated the Chiripa that were expanding northward in their domination of the lake basin, and who eventually controlled the entire lake region by 200 BC (An interesting date since this is the time that Mosiah and the more righteous Nephites left this area and went northward to Zarahemla, which quickly followed that the Lamanites then occupied this Land of Nephi he vacated),
    The Chiripa were from the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, and left behind a large rectangular mound platform that dominates the settlement, with a large carved stone in the center of the plaza. There were 14 upper houses and double walls of cobble and adobe, arranged in a trapezoid surrounding the sunken plaza. About the site the Chiripa grew quinoa and potatoes in large fields covering some 20 acres.
Andean above-ground towers called Chullpas, a funerary tomb where the ancient Peruvians buried their dead in complete single family tombs

One of the singular structures dating long before the Inca, and made of large, rounded cut and dressed stones, are the funerary towers found throughout the entire southern Central Andes, especially around the lake basin, with the above ground burial styles going back to even before the Tiwanaku. The famed tourist haven today named Sillustani, on the shores of Lake Umayo west of Puno, promotes their score of these unique tombs, drawing visitors from all over the world. It is interesting that there are far more of these uta amaya (houses of the soul) to the north and a little east of the lake in an ancient site east of the old road called Chichakuri (Quechua for “chigoe flea” or jigger). These stone tombs and the ruins of walls, houses, and squares date back into antiquity, suggesting the earliest Peruvians were not only scattered about the northern, western and southern rims of the lake and west and north upon the Altiplano, but also northeast of the lake some 65-80 miles into the Carabaya Province and as far as the fifty-mile-wide Apolobamba Mountain range along the Bolivian border, where Chaupi Orco or Wisk‘achani is the highest of dozens of peaks at 19,892-feet.
    To the West of the road in the southern Central Andes, beyond the Chullpa-entombed Sillustani, on the northeast rim of Lake Umayo, and in the open fields of the tableland was the area and settlement of Mañazo (Aymara mañasu, meaning “butcher’), about 27 miles west of Puno in the high Andean zone. The area is an abra, or “clearing,” filled with miles of flat grasslands and low, rolling hills, gullies of fixed and loose rocks, and 255-square miles of natural pasture land where wild llama and alpaca grazed along a microscuenca, or small watershed. This area swings to the southwest around low, stepped hills, ridges and sloping cliffs where the Jatunmayo River creates a passable break (through which the Panamericana highway today travels).
    At the confluence of the rivers, two valleys open up, one southward and the other southwestward (along the Panamericana route) toward Lake Calzada and Lake Lagunilas, and the other opening into several north-south running canyon valleys toward Ichuña. Beyond here are more ancient settlements that would have been Nephite before Mosiah’s depart from the City of Nephi, and later overtaken and occupied by the Lamanites.
    One can only wonder what happened to all the Nephites that were scattered throughout the area south of Cuzco, or the City of Nephi, when it came time for Mosiah to leave along with “as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord” (Omni 1:13).
(See the next post, “Were There Other Cities Vacated by the Nephites at the Time Mosiah I Left the Land and City of Nephi – Part VII, regarding the continuation of “Aqueducts, canals and defensive structures along the road and main movement area from the Altiplano west and south of Lake Titicaca)

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